A sampling of national-media reaction after the Seahawks clinched a playoff berth for the fourth straight year with a 30-13 home win over the Browns.
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin are on a serious roll, and so are the Seahawks.
Seattle cruised to its fifth straight victory on Sunday, knocking off Cleveland 30-13 at CenturyLink Field. The win secured a playoff berth for the fourth straight year and fifth in six seasons under Pete Carroll. The memories of a 2-4 start feel distant as the season has officially been turned around.
As for Wilson, his teammates are running out of superlatives to describe his play. It’s understandable when he’s the only NFL quarterback in history to throw at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions in five consecutive games. As for Baldwin, the touchdown receptions continued to pile up on Sunday, and he has 10 in his last four games, a historic run in its own right.
And hey, even Christine Michael managed to lead the team in rushing on Sunday.
The Seahawks remained solidly in the first wild-card spot in the NFC, where they are likely to stay through the end of the season with the Cardinals clinching the NFC West on Sunday night with a win at Philadelphia. As Bob Condotta explains, there is a way for Seattle to fall into the second wild-card spot, but in all likelihood, the Seahawks will play a game at the NFC East champion on Jan. 9 or 10 (Washington currently leads the division at 7-7).
The national media again had their say in the wake of Seattle’s latest victory. Here is a sampling:
Peter King of MMQB has Wilson on his MVP watch list:
“Speaking of hot wild-card teams: Seattle has won five in a row, and Russell Wilson—statistically and in every other way—is the best he’s ever been. How can you be better than 19 touchdowns and no interceptions and a 143.6 passer rating over five games?”
ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia said there are still some questions even during this incredible stretch by Wilson:
“There are still questions. Left tackle Russell Okung left the game in the second half with a calf injury. And the Seahawks have to figure out what they have at running back. They went with a committee approach Sunday: Christine Michael had 16 carries for 84 yards, Bryce Brown carried nine times for 43 yards and Derrick Coleman had five rushes for 10 yards. It’s possible Marshawn Lynch will return in the weeks ahead. Then again, there’s also a chance this is the group with which they will go into the playoffs. But injuries have not stopped the Seahawks’ offense thus far. The way Wilson and his supporting cast are playing, Seattle continues to look like a threat in the NFC.”
Kapadia, in a separate story, put Wilson’s play into perspective:
“In previous years, Wilson was a reason the Seahawks were so good. This season, he looks like the reason. Tight end Jimmy Graham and running backs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls all have gone down. But the offensive line continues to protect. Baldwin, Lockett and Jermaine Kearse continue to get open and make plays. And Wilson continues to light up defenses.”
John Breech of CBSSports.com gave the Seahawks an A in his Week 15 report card:
“It’s almost not fair to have Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson on the same team at this point. The two connected for two touchdowns against Cleveland, giving the duo a total of 10 touchdowns over Seattle’s past four games. To put Baldwin’s performance in perspective, Jerry Rice is the only other receiver in NFL history to catch 10 TD passes in four games (1987). Wilson also made some history, the Seahawks quarterback became the first player ever to throw three or more TDs with no interceptions in five straight games. Wilson threw for 249 yards and 3 TDs in the win.”
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler praised Wilson’s play:
“Browns coach Mike Pettine might want to rethink his analysis on Russell Wilson. The Seahawks quarterback ate through Cleveland’s defense on Sunday, hitting one key throw after the next as Seattle scored on six of seven possessions before the kneel down, with four of those drives lasting for 10-plus plays. Wilson (21-of-30 passing for 249 and three scores) also slipped through Pettine’s scheme for 46 yards on the ground and took just two sacks after Cleveland downed Blaine Gabbert nine times in Week 14. Wilson’s NFL-record five straight starts with three-plus touchdown throws, zero picks and a 70-plus completion percentage is no fluke. Pettine might not see him as a top-five passer, but no quarterback west of Cam Newton is playing with more poise and fire days before Christmas.”
Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, in his weekly 10 observations column, discussed how a key aspect of Wilson’s game turned things around:
“It wasn’t long ago that Wilson was getting pummeled behind an offensive line that had seemingly lost all continuity. Sacked 31 times during a 3-4 start, Wilson rarely had the opportunity to let plays develop or go downfield with consistency. Part of the issue was Wilson’s struggle with calling the correct pre-snap protections. Why? Pro Bowl center Max Unger helped Wilson with his reads prior to being traded this offseason. Without Unger, Wilson has been largely on his own in getting the right calls made – and that has been a work in progress this season. Getting it right has played a part of his past seven games, in which the offensive line has surrendered only nine sacks. The difference was evident in Sunday’s 30-13 coasting win against the Cleveland Browns. Compare that against the sack-fest in the first half of the season, and the protection has seemed to do a complete reversal.”
Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner blog had Wilson and Baldwin among the NFL’s winners on Sunday:
“These two are becoming regulars in this spot. On Sunday, Wilson became the first quarterback in NFL history to have at least three touchdowns with no interceptions in five straight games. Two of those scores went to Baldwin. Baldwin and Jerry Rice are the only players in NFL history to have at least 10 touchdown receptions in a four-game stretch. Rice did that in 1987. Good company for Baldwin. The Seahawks kept winning, taking out the Cleveland Browns 30-13. The Wilson-Baldwin connection might keep the Seahawks winning in the postseason, too.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot wrote about the gaping disparity between the Seahawks and Browns:
“Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson might not be a top-tier quarterback in Mike Pettine’s eyes, but he certainly played like one against the Browns. And Johnny Manziel might not be Wilson, but he held his own for awhile against the Seahawks’ No. 2 defense and took another small step forward. One thing is for certain: the Browns are not a top-tier team like the Seahawks.”